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Independent.ie

Thursday 8 December 2016

Wasteland - the rural areas being blighted by fly-tipping

Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30

The scene at a forest in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow which has been repeatedly used as a dumping ground by fly-tippers.
The scene at a forest in Kiltegan, Co Wicklow which has been repeatedly used as a dumping ground by fly-tippers.

The blight of fly-tipping across the Irish countryside is on the increase as the economy picks up, local authorities and conservationists have warned.

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Pure, the conservation group funded by the local authorities to remove illegally dumped waste from the uplands around Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare, says its members have collected and disposed of over 100t of rubbish upland from farming areas during the first quarter of this year.

"We have seen beds, furniture, old floor boards and entire kitchens dumped in the Wicklow and Dublin mountains this year as householders refurbish their properties," said spokesman Ian Davis.

"We are noticing that as the economy improves the level of this dumping increases. It could be that householders are renovating their properties and are getting rid of their unwanted rubbish by using unlicensed waste disposal operations."

Davis added that PURE investigates the source of the fly tipping and reports its findings to the prosecuting authorities. It is the householders involved - innocently or otherwise - who may ultimately face the courts. The IFA's environment chairman, Thomas Cooney, said tackling the problem remained a top priority.

"There's quite a bit of this dumping going on throughout the country at the moment, not only near lands off the main motorways and roads but also in more remote areas. The authorities have to enforce the waste laws and impose greater fines to deal with the problem.

"Trailer loads of the stuff is being dumped at gaps in the hedges and in fields and is not being brought to infill sites. It has become blight in the countryside, he added.

"Farmers are the guardians of the countryside and are bound to keep the land in good condition. When this type of illegal activity happens they have to clear up the mess or their basic farm payment could be reduced," he added.

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Newly elected IFA president, Joe Healy has called on the government to increase the fines for fly-tipping.

The Environmental Protection Agency received 1,600 complaints from the public last year and the majority of these involved fly-tipping. Of these complaints, 57pc involved dumping less than 20 bags of rubbish, 9pc involved 20 bags or more and 10pc involved what the agency described as "bits of litter".

A spokeswoman for Louth County Council said that fly-tipping seemed to be on the increase.

Louth County Council expects to deal with over 1,900 fly tipping and littering cases this year and anticipates pursuing 80 cases through the courts. The problem is costing the local authority nearly €250,000 in administration costs.

It's a similar story in Donegal where the county council recorded over 1,000 littering and fly-tipping cases last year. A spokesman said only 43pc of the fines imposed in these cases were paid and added that the dumping of dead animals was becoming a problem in Donegal.

Fly-tipping rates have remained relatively static in Cork, but severe incidents (over 20 bags) still occurred in the countryside, a county council spokeswoman outlined.

So far this year there have been two severe incidents of large scale dumping of 190 and 80 tyres, respectively. Both incidents occurred in Coillte forests in East Cork. Some 17t of fly tipping have been lifted by the local authority so far this year.

Cork County Council has also launched a pilot truck pick-up scheme which they expect will remove 160t of dumped material this year.

Last November €8.2m of tax-payer money was allocated to an enhanced fly-tipping enforcement. Three new authorities - Waste Enforcement Regional Lead Authorities (WERLAs) - based in Dublin, Donegal-Leitrim and Cork are co-ordinating it.

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